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Proponents of telehealth maintain that anything that gets more patients to see a healthcare provider is a step forward. Skeptics counter that there are just too many nuances and observations that can be missed when you’re chatting over electronic devices and not in the presence of the patient. New research published by JAMA Network Open seems to support the latter belief, at least when it comes to follow-up care after a visit to the emergency room. Based on study of 16,987 ED visits, patients who chose telehealth visits over in-person follow-up care were more likely to require another trip to the ED or even hospital admission (28.3 more return ED trips per 1,000 patients and 10.6 more hospital admissions per 1,000 patients, respectively). The authors acknowledged that the purpose of their study was not to assess the viability of telehealth overall.

Telehealth May Have Its Place—but Follow-Up Care Isn’t It